Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The very belated results from the public consultation are in -thank you everyone who made their opinions known -it is clear that while the respondents are in favour of the development, they don't want a bit of Bristol's parkland to be taken away.

The full report is a PDF file. The key outcomes were:
  • That green, open space should be preserved.
  • That the wildlife corridor, in particular the hedgerow, should be protected.
  • That the regeneration of the former Elizabeth Shaw factory site should take place within the existing boundary and that the Bristol and Bath Railway Path should stay in the public domain.
  • That the individual accesses to the cycle houses are flawed with concerns about safety risks; changing character of path; de facto private gardens; impact on existing natural environment; security risks.
  • The importance of Bristol as a ‘Cycling City’ and the need to protect cycle routes.
  • Concern that land sale would set a precedent.
In conclusion, although there is general support for the regeneration of the former Elizabeth
Shaw factory site the majority of those participating in the consultation felt that the development
should be contained within the original footprint of the factory site and the Bristol and Bath
Railway Path should stay in the public domain.

The majority of individuals and organisations felt that plot 1 should not be sold although there
were some suggestions for a compromise solution with partial development. A greater majority
felt that plot 2 should not be leased particularly for individual access points – many respondents
felt that these were unnecessary to the development. There was, however, some agreement to
provide an access across plot 2 to the square, café and other facilities.

Keep the Bank Green Campaigner Chris Hutt made this statement to media outlets:
It looks like the result confirms what we have been saying all along. People want to see the Chocolate Factory developed but it shouldn't involve taking land from the Railway Path. We could have told them that in the first place (which of course we did!) and saved £12,000 of our taxes being wasted on consultants.

Now we must make sure that this consultation is taken into account before the Planning Application is determined. It would be outrageous if they now ignore the results of this expensive public consultation exercise. There's no point in giving Planning Permission if the land on which it's based is not for sale, and the Council can hardly decide to sell the land to the developer after the people of Bristol, whose land it is, have made it clear that they don't want that to happen.

There is a way forward. We need to persuade George Ferguson and Squarepeg to abandon their intransigent position and recognise the need for compromise. We want to see the Chocolate Factory brought back into community use and George Ferguson's plans are in many ways exciting, but he made a mistake in thinking that the Railway Path land was just "pointless scrubland". We all make mistakes so no great shame in that, but it is important to quickly recognise when we make a mistake and move on.

We hope George Ferguson and Squarepeg will now sit down with us and explore the potential for a compromise which minimises the adverse impacts on the Railway Path and allows a viable development to proceed. They may have to lose a few of the 250 car parking places in the development to do that, but that is surely better than taking land from the Railway Path.

We are all very pleased with this outcome, and wait to see what the next actions will be.

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